ABIA partners with Lyft, Uber remains unpermitted

In this March 12, 2014 photo, passenger Katie Baranyuk, left, and Dara Jenkins, right, a driver for the ride-sharing service Lyft, perform Lyft's trademark fist-bump as they pose for a photo after Baranyuk got a ride from Jenkins to downtown Seattle to meet friends after work. In a fight pitting upstart technology and traditional business, app-based ridesharing firms are fighting with taxi companies for supremacy in the Seattle market. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — When people land at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, they will now have more options on how to get to your destination. As of this week, Lyft is now the first and only Transportation Network Company (TNC) allowed to operate as a ridesharing vendor at the airport.

The City of Austin said they were able to work with Lyft to implement a one-year pilot program that will allow them to service the airport. Under the agreement, Lyft will pay the airport a 10 percent concession fee of the money grossed by operating at the airport.

“Our customers have wanted some sort of operation like this out here as an option for ground transportation and we’ve been able to come to terms and get an agreement with Lyft and we’re happy that we’re able to offer that to our customers,” said Jim Halbrook, a spokesperson with ABIA.

He said the airport offered Uber the same deal, but they didn’t take it.  Now non-permitted operators, such as Uber, will be issued citations up to $500 for doing business at the airport.

Uber’s General Manager of Texas told KXAN News they are currently working with the city and not to count them out just yet.

“Uber operates in over 290 cities in 55 countries. A lot of people coming in for South By are Uber users and are expecting to be able to use Uber when they arrive,” said Chris Nakutis, Uber’s general manager of Texas. “We are in talks with the city and expect to see something soon.”

A Lyft spokesperson said their drivers will not be staged at in the taxi queue but they will be picking up and dropping off people in the regular lane.

The president of Yellow Cab, Ed Kargbo, said he’s not happy about the deal because he feels that Lyft drivers might some how cheat the system. He said his cabs have a tracker on them which lets the airport know how many times a driver makes a stop, which is a $1 charge each time.

ABIA officials said it would be impossible to put that type of tracker on Lyft vehicles since they are the driver’s personal cars and that is why they went with the 10 percent deal.

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